Imperialism Both Iraq and Saudi Arabia were parts of larger empires during the heyday of global Imperialism. Imperial rule was a very formative time for both countries but the end of that rule was even more important. The Ottoman Empire Both Iraq and Saudi Arabia were part of the early of the Ottoman Empire by the early 16th century. The Ottomans were Islamic and their culture fit in quite well with their subjects. Under Ottoman rule, the various tribes, cultures and religious sects across the Arab peninsula were unified and a common culture developed over the next several centuries.
Both Iraq and Saudi Arabia prospered during this time and had little in the way of international or internal instability until Ottoman rule ended. Western Imperialism Western Imperialism had a more significant impact on Iraq and Saudi Arabia’s stability. As early as 1911, the British Empire had been eyeing Iraq’s oil reserves in order to fuel of its growing navy. Iraq was also strategically located between other British holding in Egypt and India as well as a major grain trading partner.
As a result the British where constantly looking for an excuse to launch an invasion of Iraq. The British found their excuse when the First World War broke out and the Ottoman Empire found itself on the opposing side of the war. When the war ended Britain had conquered most of Iraq and negotiated the breakup of the Ottoman Empire. Most of the former Ottoman Empire was divided amongst the British and their French allies based on the economic value of its regions rather than the nationality, ethnicity, culture or religion of the people living within them.
When British and French empires ended their rule in 1932, the borders that they set remained in place as a basis for the new Arab states that followed. This led to Iraq’s diverse composition of cultures and the sectarian violence that would follow. In contrast, the Saudi Arabians had a much more warm relationship with the western powers. During the First World War, the religiously and ethnically homogenous Arabs revolted against Ottoman rule and received support from both Britain and France.
The dissolution of the Ottoman Empire by European powers led to the Saudi’s independence much earlier than Iraq, giving Saudi Arabia much more time to develop. When oil was finally discovered by American prospectors in 1932, it was seen as a massive boon for Saudi Arabia’s economy and political power, the critical role that American oil companies played early on in Saudi Arabia’s oil industry further cemented relationships with the west, providing the Saudi government with powerful backers willing to support Saudi Arabia’s stability to maintain access to their oil reserves .
As a result Saudi Arabia left imperial rule behind much more prosperous and stable than Iraq had. Authoritarianism Iraq and Saudi Arabia have both had authoritarian regimes in their recent histories. Order and stability are generally regarded as the most popular aspects of authoritarianism, so it is logical to assume that Iraq and Saudi Arabia’s difference in stability is related to their authoritarian regimes. Iraq under Saddam Hussein
Iraq was ruled by an authoritarian regime headed by the Ba’ath party and Saddam Hussein from 1979 until he was deposed and executed in 2003. While Hussein was in power, Iraq was involved in several foreign wars but remained internally stable. Hussein was supported by various military and paramilitary organizations that where personally loyal to him, such as the Fedayeen Saddam militia (Saddam’s Men of Sacrifice) and the military’s Iraqi Republican Guard.
Hussein’s Ba’athist ideology promoted Arab nationalism, supporting unified and powerful Arab states. As a result, he saw sectarian violence as counterproductive to a unified Iraq and would often use military force to put down sectarian disputes. After Hussein’s regime collapsed in 2003, a new democratic regime was put in place. The new regime was rife by corruption and ruled almost exclusively by Shiite Muslim Arabs who used their majority power to oppress other religious and ethnic groups.
Iraq’s economic and infrastructure development were given priority in Shia dominated areas, leaving other regions of the country impoverished and prone to crime. Sectarian violence escalated to the point where Shia and Sunni militias where carrying out ethnic cleansings in Iraq’s capital city of Baghdad by 2007. Poor economic development and sectarian violence in Iraq have continued to the modern day as major terrorist groups such as ISIS continue to grow in power due to their religious affiliation and excellent salaries. The House of Saud
Since its founding in 1932, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been an absolute monarchy ruled by the House of Saud. The King is in absolute control of the government, serving as both the head of state and head of government with no meaningful checks on his power whatsoever and the ability of override any actions of nation’s weak parliament and local governments.
When the modern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was founded in 1932, Abdulaziz ibn Abdul Rahman ibn Faisal ibn Turki ibn Abdullah ibn Muhammad Al Saud (often shortened to “Ibn Saud” ) was recognized as king, his six sons have succeeded him as the subsequent kings of Saudi Arabia with his sixth son, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, currently reigning as king. Ibn Saud was a follower of the Wahhabi branch of Sunni Islam, an extreme puritanical form of Islam that advocates taking drastic action against other faiths and branches of Islam. As king, Ibn Saud used his power, and the significant Sunni population of Saudi Arabia, to pass laws that severely oppressed and controlled women, foreigners, minorities and opposing religious beliefs both within and out of Islam .
As a result of these laws and the fanatical efforts of Saudi Arabia’s religious police forces, the nation has enjoyed relative internal stability for the past eight decades. Conclusions There is no single reason that Saudi Arabia is more stable than Iraq, but many of these reasons have been exacerbated by the actions of the foreign powers during the height of western imperialism. Saudi Arabia has had the benefit of having its borders drawn according to national and ethnic lines and having positive relations with major western powers throughout its history.
Iraq, conversely, has been seen as little more than a source of wealth by western powers and has had its borders defined accordingly. The Saudi’s authoritarian monarchy and its backing from the west has allowed their nation to remain stable but Iraq’s rapid ‘democratization’ due to foreign influence has left the government corrupt and ineffective; leading to significant internal strife. These lingering effects from the colonial era have left Iraq far less stable than Saudi Arabia.